Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

It is the dying hours of the year 2006, when one reflects on the past and looks towards the future with a mingling of hope and dread. There always seems to be potential on this day.

I am not overly fond of NewYear'sEve parties and won't be going to one. For a long time, my dh did the Morpeth to Newcastle run on NewYear's morning and thus he did not want to spend most of the night celbrating.Equally the chances of getting a babysittter was zero to none. And for somereason I always feel trapped at New Year's Eve parties in a way that I don't feel at any other time of the year. So it will be something quiet.
I have basically done my goals for 2007. I prefer the term -- goal as resolution is too rigid. Resolutions are all about stopping to do something. Goals are about trying to achieve something.

My writing goals are simple -- four more manuscripts -- 2 Vikings and two late Regency/Victorians set in the North East. The crows of doubt are not being let in here. However, it is more than that. I want to keep trying to improve, striving. I want my writing to grow. There is so much I have to learn and apply. I want to mature and become a writer that people are excited about reading. It is part of the intellectual challenge and why I love writing.

As I am now a published author, I have to be aware of the PR side, so my goal here is to be come more timely and effective with my PR. Again, there is always something to be done. Some lesson. This is about building a career.

A consequence of writing and other things has caused my girth to expand. It needs to shrink. My goal is get back to the weight I was in my 20s.

There are other goals such as getting the Aga fixed, getting the car repaired, getting the house decorated but these depend on other people.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and good luck on 2007. May it be the best one yet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Die Gliebte des Gladiators: Gladiator's Honor in German

Swoon, this is the Gladiator's Honor in German's cover. It is highly romantic and really captures the mood. Valen's hair colour is right as well.
The German blurb reads:
DIE GELIEBTE DES GLADIATORS Rom, 65 v. Chr.: Wie kein Mann zuvor weckt Valens der Thraker die Leidenschaft der schönen Patriziertochter Julia Antonia. In den starken Armen des berühmten Gladiators verspürt sie nie gekannte Gefühle der Lust. Und auch wenn er ein Sklave ist und die strengen Gesetze Roms eine gemeinsame Zukunft verbieten: Julia kämpft für das, was die Stimme ihres Herzens ihr rät. Und macht dabei eine aufsehenerregende Entdeckung: Valens ist nicht der, für den die Römer ihn halten …
You can buy it on Cora (Harlequin Germany) or wherever these books are sold in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
I suspect Michelle Willingham as she is fluent in german will know what the blurb says but I do wonder if it is apporximately what the Emglish blurb said or if they have changed it...
In any case, this cover is another one for my wall behind my computer.
It is all terribly exciting. I look forward to holding the German copies in my hands.
In other equally exciting news, I went ot WH Smith in Newcastle, and they had put the January releases out. Thus, I was able to buy Christina Hollis and Abbey Green's first Presents, as well as Deb Hale's The Bride Ship -- a book I have been looking forward to reading. A Noble Captive was also there. In fact I do not believe I have ever seen so many copies of M&B historicals in one place, ever. They had about 50 copies of each book. A Noble Captive had already sold two copies from what I could figure. I will now have to write a press release and hope to get it in the local papers.
It was much less terrifying this time. Much more exciting. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and could not take a picture. I will go to the WH Smiths in Hexham next week and take photos.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day in the UK - -when the poor boxes were traditionally opened and istributed to the poor. Unlike the US, today is a bank holiday in the UK. Some sales start but mainly, it is a day for watching sport, going for brisk walks, having another large meal, going to watch the hunt -- that sort of thing.

We are going to go for a bracing walk soon.

Christmas morning started at 3:50 am when my dh nudged me and asked if I knew it was ten to four. For get the children waking early.It is my dh. Then once, he stirred and went down to make tea, my eldest came in and said that he was having trouble sleeping, and seeing as we were up. We finally went down stairs at 5 am. After Mass, I had a nap.

We coped without the Aga and Christmas diner was lovely compete with roasted vegetables and a well cooked ham. My dh decided to make sweet cabbage -- boiled cabbage with apples and cranberries -- it was surprisingly good -- a vriation on Nigel Slater as he thought the cranberries might go off. The cranberries added a welcome tartness. We even had Christmas pudding for dessert.
However I shall be v glad when the Aga is finally fixed as the kitchen is so v cold without it.

I have been v good and have not started my wip, even though my muse is start to scream in my ear. I keep just jotting down notes. But I am v excited about this one. I do love writing and miss it when I am not in the midst of a novel.

Now is the time to begin thinking about goals for 2007. One of my major ones is going to be shed weight. I am tired of having writing bum. There are also certain writing goals and PR goals that I want to do, but more about this later. My eldest and youngest were given computer games for Christmas and so I am getting the long suffering looks...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Good Wishes

First of all, my friend Julie Cohen has finally had her baby. 13 days overdue but she and her dh now have him as an extra special Christmas present. It does go to show that there are happy endings as this baby is a much wanted child.

The presents are all wrapped and placed in a holding area. My dh does not like having presents out until late Christmas Eve. I do. We compromisae. He puts my presents and presents we get from other people under the tree. The rest don't come out...until after the children go to bed.
The stockings are hanging ready. The younger two will be reading at the Village Crib service. The youngest is excited about this.The middle is doing it under sufferance. The eldest has bailed but he read at the Village carol service last week. Even though the Aga is not working (long story) and won't be working until after New Year's, we now have a table top hob with half sized oven and will have a hot Christmas lunch. Luckily I had plannedon ham, rather than a full sized turkey!

As luck would have it, my muse is speaking, and I have the next Viking basically plotted. But I am obeying my dh (and my editor) and not writing over Christmas.

I want to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a joyous 2007. Dare to dream your dreams, work hard at achieving then and they may come true.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter wonderland Contest

Over at the Romance Junkies the y are doing a Winter Wonderland Contest. I have donated a book (A Noble Captive) and set of Roman soldier figurines (or at least I hope they are still sold at English Heritage)
It took me a few moments to work out how the contest works btw. You have to find the hidden goodies and then click them. You the n answer a questions. It is great fun. There are prizes from kate Walker and Kate Bridges as well as many other publishers and authors as well.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is that the date?

I sent my latest off to my lovely editor last evening and now I await her comments. I really trust my editor's eye and know that whatever she says, it will make for a stronger book. The whole is about getting the strongest book possible.
My next book will be back in the Viking era, and I am looking forward to writing it as it is a linked book to Taken by The Viking and thus provides an intellectual challenge. How do I do it? The thing I think I have to remember is that everyone is the hero of their own story. It all depends on the POV. If you wrote a story from a villian's POV, he would be the hero.
One of the dangers of linked stories is that the writer is not ready to let go of her earlier hero or heroine. I am hoping because I have written the Victorian in between that won't happen to me. I know sort of what happens in this book and the name of the hero is written in stone. This will be a relief to my long suffering cps as the names of my characters do tend to change...It is the name of the heroine that I am having diffculties with and is my task for the next few days. I have promised my editor that I am not going to think much about writing over Christmas. So I am not planning on getting a real start on this one until after Boxing Day...

That and finishing my Christmas cards, wrapping presents, cleaning the house, making sure we actually have food, etc etc.

The Christmas sickness seems to be early onset this year -- my younest two are home sick from school...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Four things

Before I forget, Sela tagged me with the four things meme

Four jobs I've had:
1.Gift Wrapper at a department store
2. Insurance Agent
3. tutor
4 writer
Four places I've lived:
1 Mtn View California
2 Northfield Minnesota
3 Newcastle Upon Tyne
4 Hexham
Four favorite foods:
1 olives
2 salami
3. baked potatoes
4. fruitcake
Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. Casablanca
2. Guys and Dolls
3. Star Wars
4 The Wizard of Oz
Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. Sharpe
2. Hornblower
3. Life on Mars
Four places I've traveled:
1. Iceland
2. Prague
3 Rome
4. Bergen Norway
Four places I'd like to visit:
1. Scilily
2. Athens
3. the North African coast
4 Turkey
Four websites I go to daily:
1. e-harlequin
2 The Pink Heart Society
3. Aol News
4. various friends' blogs
Four people tagged:
1. Nell Dixon
2. Amanda Ashby
3. Anne McAllister
4. Donna Alward

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On editting

I knowSela has tagged me and I will get to the tag soon.

I have finished the first draft and am on the editting stage of my ms. It is my favourite stage -- possibly.I think I like revisions better. It is the pulling together of the ideas and getting them to work.

There is lots I want to blog about -- I am currently reading The Writer'sJourney. It is intersting but not as helpful as say Robert McKee. At least now I know where some of the terminology comes from. I suspectI am actually going to have read Jung at some point. Volger uses Jung in his thesis and having read Myer-Briggs I can see where the two can mesh.

But right now I have to get to polishing. My cps have been very helpful in pointing out places where things are not working for them...this makes my task easier.

I am not thinking about the half written stack of Christmas cards, the non wrapped presents, the presents I still have to get, etc etc. It can all wait. I have to get this ms done.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What I thought she said

To clarify a bit, partly because I think it is interesting and partly to show how my mind works.

In October 2005, Anna Lucia kindly drove me back to my house after an all day RNA workshop where Kate Walker was one of the chief speakers.

Somehow the back seat conversation came around to Kate's revisions and she started to explain about motivation and her troubles with The Antonakos Maraige. The basic gist was that a woman has a one night stand to experience life before she gets married to a Greek tycoon because she trying to save her ill father from jail, but the man she has the stand with turns out not to be just a stranger in the night...

Now I thought she said that the Greek tycoon that the heroine was supposed to marry was the man the heroine ends up spending the night with. At this point, my hamster wheels were turning loudly and I nodded as Kate explained about motivation etc and how she had to make the heroine truly sympathetic and strong as there were potential for mis-steps. And I couldn't be sure. I thought the thing wa far fetched -- why wouldn't the heroine recognize her husband to be? But Kate is a master, and I figured -- if anyone can pull this off, she can.

And having read the book, I can say that I heard completely wrong. In the Antonakos Marriage, the hero is not necessarily the Greek tycoon the heroine is marrying. I don't want to spoil the story for any who have not read it yet, but it is far more complicated than that. As I said, I really enjoyed it and do think she succeeded in telling her tale.

Now I knew in the context of the Roman historical I wanted to do, I could not do a one night stand (too many problems), but a man forcing a woman to marry him to save her father from certain disgrace that I could do. It could really work. In fact it could really work with the hero that had been lurking in the back of my mind ever since my editor told me that she loved and adored pirates as heroes. And it was very much Beauty and the Beast. That particular fairytale has been one of my favourites since I was about 8. If you will recall Beauty sacrifices herself for her father's sake once the Beast discovers him in the garden picking the white roses that he promised Beauty. All I had to do was figure why my heroine Lydia would want to sacrifice herself, why she would feel responsible, and the consequences of her actions.

Light bulbs started flashing etc and I suddenly knew that I had to write this story rather than the more vague story about a soldier returning from the wars to a wife he barely knows. (This story may be written some day, but just not yet)

Now for Kate, the essence, the essential part of the story could have been different. She has done a number of Beauty and Beast themes before and often with a twist. It could have been the one night stand, and what happens when you think you are doing something that has no consequences...but that didn't matter. For my story she had given me a kernel, an idea and I could run with it.

It is the taking of the kernel and twisting, moulding and fashioning it into your own story that is the interesting part. But I know without Kate Walker and her revision tale, S&S would not have been written.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sold and Seduced copies


Sold and Seduced arrived today and I finally was able to see my cover.

It is a lovely seductive cover BUT it has nothing to do with the book. I am not sure why it was chosen.

The heroine's hair colour is wrong and they never kiss in a pond with catkins, but it is a lovely and evocative cover. And I trust my editors to have chosen a cover that will sell the book.

As some of you may know, this book was inspired by a conversation with Kate Walker. She was explaining about her book The Antonakos Marriage and the hamster wheels started turning in my head. At last a really solid reason for a marriage of convenience. I kept nodding my head, as she explained some of her revision problems but only listened with half an ear. I know what I thought she said. I could not get the premise and the idea out of my mind. And I told Kate, and with her permission as there is no copyright on ideas, I started to write.

Kate very kindly sent me a copy of TAM to read while I had my first eye operation. At this point Sold and Seduced was about half done. When I read The Antonakos Marriage (and it is a very good read btw and I have a few copies of TAM that I will be giving away when the UK paperback of Sold and Seduced is published), I realized that I had not heard properly at all. Sold and Seduced is a very different story with a very different plot line. Perhaps I need to have my ears checked!

The one thing it shares in common is the Beauty and the Beast premise -- a woman sacrificing herself for the sake of her father and his position in society.

If you ever get the chance, do go and take a course with Kate. She is a wonderful teacher and mentor. I defy you to go and not have your head come away buzzing with ideas. If not her book -- Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is an excellent resource.

Oh and I have just looked at Kate Walker's blog and seen the cover for The Antonakos Marriage in the US. Kate and I share an editor who knows the story of my inspiration. My editor who is a Bad Influence has a wicked sense of humour. I think I now understand the reasoning behind my cover. Very amusing...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

DIE GELIEBTE DES GLADIATORS: The Gladiator's Honour in German

I have discovered today the German title for Gladiator's Honor: DIE GELIEBTE DES GLADIATORS

Michelle Willingham who is fluent in German says that it means The Gladiator's Beloved. Which is not a bad title.
I have yet to see the blurb etc. But it should be available next month from Harlequin Cora. I suspect the cover will be basically the same as the US cover. But still it is very exciting, GH will have been translated into 2 languages other than English.

I truned in my article on Introducing the Roman Hero to the German Romance Magazine -- Love Letter Magazin. The editor is a very nice person and is doing a review of GH or I guess DGDG.

Now the only looming deadline I have is the one for NCC. It is coming on and I am nearly there. I want it to be an excellent read. After reading the SB review of GH, I realized that I have created a female character who needs to get her just desserts -- ie be slapped around a bit. But how to do it, that is the question.It should be fun though.

Christmas preparations continue apace. Thank God for the internet and internet shopping. It makes things far easier, particularly sending to the US.

There is a new blog -- Unusual Historicals that I was being a columnist for. Its main purpose is to promote Historicals in unusual settings and time periods. Something I can totally identify with. yes, I enjoy Regencies and Westerns, but I do want something more.

Back to the word mines....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Colour me excited

Many moons ago, I decided that I wanted to know how Gladiator's Honor would really stack up in the minds of readers who read a lot of romance and were not afraid to voice their opinion. Thus, I contacted Smart Bitches who loves trashy novels and asked, fully expecting to be told -- no we don't review series romance. To my surprise, they were very nice, and I sent off Gladiator's Honour when I first got my author's copies. Nothing. No review. Not even a bad one.
It might have got lost in the post, but then being lazy and slightly nervous, I did not follow it up. What if it had been thrown against a wall? Did I really want to know? And in any case, I had had several other reivews by reviewers that I trusted, and was less panicky about the whole thing. I did not follow up.
To my great surprise and delight, the mystery was solved this morning when a review was posted. Gladiator's Honor had fallen behind a stack of books and was lost. The even better news was that Sarah loved it!
For a review like that and to please a reader like her, I can forgive the time it took.
I am really pleased and honoured.
An A-. Wow.
You can read the full review here.

It has made my morning, especially as I am on the ch 14 panic. This has happened several times before and I am now recognise the symptoms. As my editor said the last time -- Just Keep Writing and it will all happen.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Il Gladiatore:The Gladiator's Honor in Italian

Deborah Hale whose book The Bride Ship is out in the UK next month spotted that The Gladiator's Honor is out in Italy in January.

The blurb reads:
Antica Roma, 65 a.C. Sopravvissuto a parecchi feroci combattimenti nell'arena, Caio Gracco Valente accende le fantasie erotiche di moltissime donne. Ma essendo un gladiatore, è escluso a priori dai circoli più raffinati della società romana, e Giulia Antonia, nobile patrizia, sa bene che una fanciulla di buona famiglia non dovrebbe avere alcun contatto con un uomo che è poco più di uno schiavo. Eppure, il fascino pericoloso che Valente esercita su di lei l'attrae come una calamita. Figlio di un nobile patrizio, Valente è stato catturato dai pirati e ridotto in schiavitù, e l'incontro con la dolce Giulia non fa che risvegliare in lui i ricordi di un passato ormai lontano e acuire il suo desiderio di riscatto. Ma l'unico modo per coronare quel tenero sogno d'amore e riconquistare l'onore e la libertà è combattere fino all'ultimo sangue nell'arena... e vincere!

I suspect it is a close translation of the English back cover.

Anyway, it can purchased here

This is my Italian biography:
Originaria di San Francisco, California, da quando si è sposata con un inglese, nel 1988, vive nel Northumberland a poche miglia dal Vallo di Adriano.
I think it say Orginally from San Francisco. When she married an Englishman in 1988, moved to Northumberland at little ways from Hadrian's Wall. But I could be wrong.
Does anyone know?

I find it all really exciting and interesting.

Legends about candy canes

As Natasha asked, I went and looked up more about candy canes.

There are many popular legends about candy canes and why they are shaped like a shephard's crook as Jesus is the Good Shephard or some say the letter J for Jesus. The hard boiled candy is supposed to be the Rock of God's love. The peppermint flavour comes from the mention of hsyssop in the Bible.

The earliest reference to candy cane shaped sweets is 1670 when it is said a choirmaster handed out boiled white candy shaped i as shepard's crooks to his choir and the children in the congregation during living crib services.
The practice gradually spread through central Europe and was incoporated into Christmas tree decorations. You can sort of see how that would happen -- the living crib services are often on Christmas Eve, people in Central Furope put their trees on Christms Eve, the cane shaped candy is just right for hanging...

Before the 20th century, all candy canes were white, and if you look at Victorian Christmas cards, you will see white canes hanging from the branches of Christmas trees.

No one is quite certain which candy-maker was resonsible for putting the stripes into the cane, but sometime in the early 20th century -- the red stripes were added. One bold red stripe and three fine red stripes. The bold red stripe is supposed to be God's love and the three fine stripes are supposed to represent the Trinity. I tend to think and believe the stories that say that this happened in the US first, possibly in Indiana. Anyway, does it really matter whose idea it was? It seems to have rapidly spread through the US during the first half of the 20th century, along with many other candy or sweet traditions.

Candy canes with the distinctive stripes are very American. I grew up with them. You do not really find over here or at least they were difficult to find in the UK twenty years ago. And they tended not to have the three fine stripes... It is surprising given the popularity of Rock.

Anyway, they can be seen as symbol of Christ's love. In one form or another, they have been around for a long time and look pretty on the tree. I am just hoping to be able to find some for y Christmas tree -- proper ones that have lots of peppermint...

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Noble Captive out on M&B's site

A Noble Captive can be purchased from Mills and . They release their January books a month early on the site.
If you are a reader service subscriber, you can get them even earlier. Waves to Jen and Alison who have both told that they have read ANC and enjoyed it.
The January releases are really strong. Not just because there is my book which I love and adore, but also because there is a Louise Allen, a Kate Bridges, a Helen Dickson and a Deb Hale. Now Deb's is already showing sold out. And it is one I want to read - -The Bride Ship. I feel quite honoured to be in the company of those authors...
Luckily M&B have flat rate charging for postage, so I can stock up...